Somebody cue Jahiem's "Age Ain't a Factor" music video, please. Angela Bassett. Cicely Tyson. Gabrielle Union. Adrienne Banfield-Jones (Jada Pinkett Smith's mama). Toni Braxton. Bianca Lawson. Nia Long. Sanaa Lathan. Cynthia Bailey. Karyn Parsons. Sade. Regina Hall. Kimberly Elise. Rozonda "Chili" Thomas. Jill Marie Jones. Mya. Alfre Woodard. Jenifer Lewis. Brandy. Iman. Whew! That's 20 you-definitely-don't-look-your-age women and y'all know good and well that I could go on and on. Indeed, there are a billion-and-one things that make being a Black woman beyond dope, inspiring and relevant. Today, we're going to touch on how well we seem to age.
So, what's up with my title for this article? Yes, there is solid scientific evidence which supports the fact that the high amounts of collagen and melanin (especially if you've got what is known as eumelanin which is what causes someone to have skin of a darker hue) in our skin, coupled with the fact that our bones are denser than a lot of other ethnicities and a lot of us didn't grow up wearing a ton of cosmetics, has resulted in many of us constantly looking 10-20 years longer than we actually are. Still, there are two things to always keep in mind. One, chronological aging is something that none of us can avoid (which is why some people can look 40 for 15 years and then look significantly older all of a sudden). Two, if you don't take care of your skin (and hair and teeth), you can start to age, rapidly and significantly so, no matter how amazing your gene pool is or how much melanin you've got.
That's why I said that "Black can crack" and I stand by that. Many health professionals do as well. What this piece sets out to do is to provide a few tips on how to not take what God (and your parents) gave you for granted so that you can keep looking, as my mother—who also qualifies for the "Wow, you look at least 15 years younger" line up—would put it, not younger than your age so much as representing what your age should be out here lookin' like.
If there are two things that a lot of us struggle with when it comes to our skin, especially as we get older, it would have to be discoloration and dryness. Something that can make this less of an issue is to exfoliate (2-3 times a week unless you have sensitive skin; if that's the case, only do it once a week). Exfoliating is what helps to remove dead skin cells, clear clogged pores and reveal healthy skin. There are plenty of exfoliants on the market that you can buy, but something that I'm a fan of is old-fashioned DIY brown sugar and honey skin scrub. All you need to do is combine ½ cup of brown sugar (it's a humectant that gently exfoliates) with ¼ cup of coconut oil (it's got antibacterial properties), a teaspoon of grapeseed oil (it's loaded with antioxidants) and 2 tablespoons of honey (it's a humectant). Apply this mixture to clean damp skin and you'll notice immediate results after the first use.
If you've always made it a habit of going out without sunscreen because you believe you don't need it, it's time to invest in something like Black Girl Sunscreen SPF 30.
While it's true that many of us grew up with the myth that darker skin doesn't require protection from the sun (not to mention the fact that many dermatologists were not trained on how to properly treat our skin), the reality is we can get sunburned and—this is a greater point—we are four times more likely than white people to be diagnosed with melanoma once it's in its fourth stage (which is very serious).
Also, since overexposure to UV rays can also result in fine lines and wrinkles over time, it's definitely in your best interest to apply sunscreen onto your face as well as your body. Not some of the time; daily.
Eat Food with Collagen in It
If your skin isn't looking as "tight" as you would like it to (or as it used to appear), it's probably because your system isn't producing as much collagen as it once did. Collagen is a natural protein that strengthens your skin and builds its natural elasticity. The good news is there are collagen supplements that can counteract this issue. You can also eat foods that are high in collagen. Some of those include berries, tomatoes, bone broth, dark leafy greens, fish, citrus fruits and carrots.
Eat Melanin-Producing Foods Too
Since melanin is what keeps us looking so good, it makes perfect sense that we should consume foods that help to maintain our melanin levels, right? Come to think of it, the reason why our hair turns grey is because our bodies stop producing the amount of melanin that it once did as we get older. That's why it's also a good idea to intentionally eat foods that can produce melanin in our bodies. I actually wrote an article entitled, "Some Foods Literally Enhance Our Melanin (Who Knew?)" that will help you out with that.
Ease Off of the Perfume and Statement Necklaces
Man. There were about a dozen people who immediately came to my mind when I read up on this particular point. I kinda hate to say it but…you know how they say that if you cut open a tree and count its rings that you'll be able to tell how old it is? A lot of us may look great in the face but our neck still "tells on us" because it's saggy and wrinkly. Two reasons why that could be the case is because of the perfume that we spray on it and/or the heavy jewelry that we wear around it. The reality is that perfume tends to have quite a bit of alcohol in it that can dry our skin out (so you might want to switch over to essential oils). As far as necklaces go, while you might want to wear chunky stuff on occasion, the key is not to do it all of the time; the weight can pull down on your skin which you definitely don't want if you desire to have a youthful-looking neck.
Take a Vitamin D Supplement
Here's something that might trip you out. The reason why a lot of Black people have a natural Vitamin D deficiency is because our melanin actually hinders the sun's ability to naturally create it in our system.
A lack of Vitamin D not only results in fatigue and bone, back and muscle pain, it can lead to premature hair loss and skin aging too. You can stay on top of this by taking a Vitamin D supplement and/or to eat foods that are high in it. Some of those include salmon, eggs, yogurt, cheese and fortified cereals.
Keep Your Teeth White
Something else that tends to happen over time is our natural enamel wears off and exposes the dentin that is underneath it. That can, in turn, cause our teeth to have a grey or yellowish tint to it which can also make us look older. Maintaining good oral health can help to keep this from happening. So can cutting back on acidic drinks (like soda and coffee), balancing how much fermented food you consume (it also has acid in it), and keeping your mouth thoroughly hydrated (that keeps bacteria at bay). Also, use a softer bristle toothbrush. Hard bristles can damage your teeth over time too.
Get Some Protein Treatments
When you end up with grey hair, it has a lot to do with your gene pool. At the same time, being low in protein plays a significant role as well. Our hair is made up of the protein keratin, which is produced less and less, the older we become. That can result in our hair looking thinner and less healthy. That's why it's a good idea to give your hair protein treatments about every six weeks. Also, because nails are made up of keratin and they can become drier and more brittle over the years, make sure that you eat foods that are high in protein (yogurt, spirulina, oats, quinoa and poultry), and that you regularly apply a nail strengthener to your nails too.
Drink More Water
It would take another article entirely to cover all of the benefits that come with drinking water. As far as your skin goes—it removes toxins, hydrates you (so that you have less fine lines and wrinkles), reduces puffiness, speeds up the healing process, balances the sebum in your skin (which makes your pores appear smaller) and, it also makes your skin look fuller and plumper; this, in turn, causes you to look younger in the process.
Sleep on Your Back More Often
I've got to admit that this is something I need to work on. While I prefer to sleep on my side, doing that (and sleeping on your stomach) can also age you. How? Well, if you ever wake up and see lines on your face, don't just chalk that up to simply being a minor result of being on your sheets and pillowcases all night; it's actually a foreshadowing of where wrinkles can occur. That's because putting that kind of pressure on your face for hours on end can create creases and crinkles over time. That's why it really is your best bet to sleep on your back as much as you can. You lower the "risk" of fine lines, you allow the fluid in your face to properly drain and, you can keep the bacteria that's on your bedding from infecting your pores—and all of this can help you to "keep your Black from cracking" for many years to come.
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Whoopi Goldberg discussed her experience with endometriosis on The View.
During the segment on November 8, the co-hosts were joined by Hillary Clinton, who is an executive producer for the documentary Below the Belt, to raise awareness about endometriosis.
Goldberg expressed her grievances with the health care system to properly diagnose women with the condition after an untreated urinary tract infection led her to discover that she had the condition.
“It drives me berserk that we are still constantly having to beg for health care,” she shared candidly.
“We pay taxes. Women pay taxes. I don’t understand why, when doctors go to school forever, they’re not taught about a woman’s body. And then you have all of these people making these comments, and you know [they] have no idea how this works,” she added.
Endometriosis is a common and often painful condition that occurs when the tissue similar to the lining inside the uterus, called the endometrium, grows outside the uterus. It often affects the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the tissue lining the pelvis.
The Sister Act star went on to share that she considers herself to be “lucky” to have caught her endometriosis at an early stage, emphasizing the importance of addressing such health issues promptly.
“I was lucky enough because I had a urinary tract infection that I did not take care of. Note to people: don’t let that stuff go. Because stuff happens in your body, and I ended up with what looked like - and I don’t mean to gross you out - but suddenly there was a smell, and it looked like cottage cheese, and I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.
“And I was lucky enough to get to somebody who said: ‘This is called endometriosis,’” Goldberg continued. “They were able to treat me with antibiotics, but that’s because somebody knew what they were looking at.”
As the conversation around endometriosis begins to grow, it is important for women to continue to share their symptoms and educate others about the diagnosis. Goldberg is just one of many celebrities who have used their platform to discuss the condition. Chrissy Teigen, Tia Mowry, and Monica are among those spreading awareness that can empower other women to seek early diagnosis and potentially prevent more severe, long-term pain.
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